The site is critical in anchoring future development of an Environmental Learning Center
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Government of the District of Columbia has taken legal measures to preserve the open space of approximately 250 acres of land that the District owns in Anne Arundel County, Md. The District’s action finalizes the settlement of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrative case involving underground storage tanks (USTs) at the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) facility, located at 8300 Riverton Court, Laurel, Md.
Under a 2010 settlement agreement with the EPA, the District paid a $73,489 penalty, removed 14 USTs and approximately 725 tons of contaminated soil at the facility in Anne Arundel County. As part of the settlement, the District also agreed to complete a supplemental environmental project to preserve open space in Laurel, Md., working in cooperation with the State of Maryland and three non-profit conservation groups.
On September 27, 2012, the Department of General Services (DGS) finalized and recorded an agreement with the Maryland Environmental Trust (MET), Scenic Rivers Land Trust, Inc. and Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust to create a Conservation Land Easement for 250 acres at the Oak Hill site in Laurel. The purpose of the conservation easement is to preserve open space, to protect the natural wildlife habitat (including important habitat for forest-dwelling birds), and to foster low impact recreational uses and activities such as nature study, orienteering, hiking, fishing, and kayaking.
“In filing the easement with Anne Arundel County and setting aside this large parcel of land into perpetuity, with the assistance of the Office of the Attorney General, DGS satisfies the requirements of the agreement between the District and EPA while further confirming DGS’ and the Mayor’s belief in the vital importance of protecting shared natural resources and environmental stewardship,” said Brian J. Hanlon, DGS Director.
The property consists of 250 acres of predominantly woodlands, wooded wetlands, open emergent wetlands, steep slopes, hydric soils, the Little Patuxent River, relatively natural habitat for Forest Interior Dwelling Bird Species (“FIDS”) and scenic value of significant public benefit from Maryland Route 32.
The 2010 settlement between the EPA and the District resolved alleged violations of federal and Maryland regulations of USTs, including failure to install spill prevention equipment intended to prevent releases and spills; failure to install overfill prevention equipment; failure to provide corrosion protection; and failure to register nine USTs with the Maryland Department of the Environment.
With millions of gallons of gasoline, oil, and other petroleum products stored in underground storage tanks nationwide, leaking tanks are a major source of soil and groundwater contamination. EPA and state UST regulations are designed to reduce the risk of underground leaks and to promptly detect and properly address leaks which do occur, thus minimizing environmental harm and avoiding the costs of major cleanups.
The Department of General Services (DGS)
The mission of the Department of General Services (DGS) is to elevate the quality of life for the District with superior construction, first-rate maintenance and expert real estate management. By building and maintaining safe and green state-of-the-art facilities which foster economic growth and elevate educational environments, our trusted and skillful employees create modern and vibrant communities across all of the District of Columbia.